Elevated plus-maze performance of Fischer-344 rats as a function of age and of exposure to 56Fe particles
Rabin, B.M. | Carrihill-Knoll, K.L. | Carey, A.N. | Shukitt-Hale, B. | Joseph, J.A. | Foster, B.C.
The aging process is characterized by a series of changes in neurochemical functioning and in motor and cognitive performance. In addition to changes in cognitive/behavioral performance, aged rats also show an increase in baseline anxiety measured using the elevated plus-maze. Exposure to 56Fe particles, a component of cosmic rays, produces neurochemical and behavioral changes in young animals which are characteristic of aged organisms. The present study was designed to determine the relationships between aging and exposure to 56Fe particles on anxiety. Fischer-344 (F-344), which were 2, 7, 12, and 16 months of age at the time of irradiation, were exposed to 56Fe particles (50-200 cGy). Concordant with previous results, the oldest rats spent less time exploring the open arms of the maze. Exposure to 56Fe particles also produced decreased exploration of the open arms of the plus-maze. The dose needed to produce increased levels of anxiety was a function of age at the time of irradiation. The dose of 56Fe particles needed to produce a decrease in open arm exploration was significantly lower in the rats that were irradiated at 7 and 12 months of age than in the rats irradiated at 2 months of age. These results suggest the possibility that exposing middle-aged astronauts to cosmic rays during exploratory class missions outside the magnetosphere, and the resultant effects on exploration-induced anxiety, may affect their ability to successfully complete mission requirements.Show more [+] Less [-]